Despite being the lowest-grossing film in the Harry Potter franchise, fans can’t help but love Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And that adoration is all thanks to direction from Alfonso Cuaron.

The Academy Award-winning director (Gravity) was at the helm of the third installment, following Christopher Columbus’ first two films in the series. The goal for the series was to progressively make the films darker as the main characters aged, and that tonal shift was made prevalent with Cuaron’s creative mind.

The first two films swept fans up in the world. The looks of awe on Harry, Ron and Hermione’s faces when they first entered the Great Hall that September night was reflected in the audience. People watched with the same awe-inspired looks as this group of preteens navigated a new place full of fantastical witches and wizards. The Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets showed a colorful world and ended in hope for the characters’ futures at Hogwarts. 

But Prisoner of Azkaban was a completely different experience. 

The most notable change was the costuming. Cuaron decided to ditch the traditional robe attire for more teenage-appropriate clothing. Cuaron and costume designer Jany Temmie worked to make the characters and the world in which they operate more realistically. That meant putting the actors in street clothing and creating a looser feel to the in-class uniforms. The ties were loosened; the robes were often in disarray. The distinct change in costuming developed the characters in the series. They became more relatable. It showed that, though they possess magical abilities, they are not unlike teenage students in today’s age.

The third film also brought fan-favorite characters from the books to the big screen: Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. The casting for those two could not have been better in terms of their ease on screen. Lupin is described as looking ill and exhausted, an appearance David Thewlis mimicked easily. And the choice to cast Gary Oldman was one of the best in the series. Though he doesn’t have the steel grey eyes that were a staple to Black’s character, Oldman embodied the “casual elegance” that became the primary facet of Black’s personality.

Because Prisoner of Azkaban is the only installment in the franchise that doesn’t feature Voldemort in any form, the movie had to find a way to make the audience care about the characters and the proprel the series forward. That was achieved by focusing on the relation of Harry’s time at Hogwarts to his father’s. The film and book dive into James Potter’s friend group and what really happened the night his parents died at the hands of Voldemort. Though the movie left out one of the most important aspects of the book — the fact Pettigrew was Lily and James’ secret keeper — it is still looked on as one of the best, if not the best, in the series.

The success of the film’s shift in tone and moving the plot forward is all thanks to the director. Had Cuaron not directed the third film, it would have been hard for the audience to relate to the characters on a fundamental level. Cuaron made choices that were employed by the final two directors, Mike Newell and David Yates. Because of that, it’s jarring to go back and watch the first two films. The series made a distinct shift with the third movie, and it would have felt odd to continue the franchise in the same way the first to films were made. Cuaron focused on the details, which resulted in a cohesive film and a propelled the series to a new level.

Georgia Davis is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What was your favorite part of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? Tell Georgia by tweeting her at @georgiadee35

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